Australia How James Packer saved BOTH clubs in Sunday's NRL Grand Final
Panthers snare grand final berth in a classic
The Panthers have edged the Storm in a gripping encounter to book their place in a grand final against the Rabbitohs.Next Sunday will see the Panthers shoot for their first premiership since downing the Roosters in the 2003 grand final, after a typically resolute defensive performance held the Storm to their lowest score of the season.
Billionaire James Packer is a proud part-owner of the South Sydney Rabbitohs - but is also revered in Penrith after saving the Panthers from folding.
As a favour to close mate Phil Gould, the club's general manager at the time, the billionaire businessman handed over a $10 million loan in 2012.
The loan saw the club live to fight another day and develop into a modern daypremiership heavyweight.
Just under a decade ago, the Panthers were loaned $100 million from ING Bank, and whencorporate raider Torchlight called in 10 per cent of the debt to be paid immediately, it was Packer to the rescue.
NRL grand final will be a 'once-in-a-lifetime' event for Brisbane's Lang Park
This year's NRL season has put an unprecedented workload on staff at Lang Park, who plan to make the historic Queensland grand final unforgettable.But with capacity for just 52,000 people at the historic Queensland NRL grand final on October 3, it'll fail in comparison to record crowds seen in the past: 107,999 in 1999 at Sydney Olympic Park being the benchmark.
Former Panthers chairman Don Feltis recalled being blown away by Packer's generosity.
'It was the first time I'd met him and he (Packer) said: ''Don, we'll give you the $10 million. That's no problem'',' Feltis told the
'Just like that. There was no interest or anything. A few months later we sold Nepean Shores (a retirement village) for $11 million and paid Packer back.'
Gould called in the urgent favour from his media mogul friend, acutely aware the club was on the verge of extinction if he sat on his hands.
A selfless Packer said he agreed to the loan as 'Phil (Gould) is a great friend' and 'he told me the Panthers needed my support'.
'Filthy' great admits he was sucked in by Storm
PAUL GALLEN: There was one big factor that swung Saturday's match in favour of the Penrith Panthers.I'm filthy I backed away from it a few weeks ago, but I said at the start of the season that when it came to the biggest games of the year that Melbourne would miss Cameron Smith.
Despite his financial intervention, Packer's loyalty isn't in doubt ahead of the NRL Grand Final this Sunday - he will cheering on the Rabbitohs, who are chasing their first premiership since 2014.
The Panthers last won a title in 2003, and 30 years ago in 1991 also hoisted the trophy after beating Canberra 19-12 at the Sydney Football Stadium.
And in a bombshell development on Tuesday morning, the NRL decider could be shifted to Townsville this Sunday following six new Covid cases overnight in Brisbane.
Two of the new cases were acquired overseas, and one is an international traveller who tested positive after they came out of hotel quarantine.
But the remaining three - a husband and wife and a truck driver - are concerning Queensland health officials.
The truck driver was active in the community for a week before testing positive. The Brisbane guest house where he was living has since been sealed off.
NRL grand final: When is kick-off? Where is it being played? Who's playing?
The 2021 NRL grand final is almost here and as with so many events in the past 18 months, things are a little bit out of the ordinary. Here's what you need to know.Here's what you need to know about the rugby league decider.
Adalong Guest House in South Brisbane - across the road from a school and adjacent to a major hospital - is also under police guard, with more than a dozen residents put into isolation and being tested.
The new infection comes just days ahead of the NRL Grand Final to be hosted in Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium on Sunday night.
Townsville is on standby to host the match as the NRL contingency plan, but the Queensland premier insisted Brisbane will still be hosting the game at the moment.
'There has been no discussions with the NRL,' Annastacia Palaszczuk said on Tuesday morning.
'When my phone rings, I'll be updating people but there is no concern at the moment.'
Tickets for the premiership decider between South Sydney and Penrith at the 52,000 capacity stadium have already sold out.
At this stage the NRL is not overly concerned about a last-minute switch to Townsville, but the next 48 hours will be critical.
Should a lockdown be announced in the coming days, the NRL would then pull the trigger and relocate the clash to Far North Queensland for the first time.
Tips: Forgotten 'advantage' that tilts grand final
NRL grand final tips: Brad Fittler has revealed a forgotten "advantage" that could determine the result in Sunday's decider.Speaking on Wide World of Sports' Freddy and The Eighth, Fittler debated with Andrew Johns what impact the Panthers' tough finals campaign would have in the grand final, with Johns arguing it would weaken them and Fittler saying it would give them an edge.
Townsville's stadium has a maximum capacity of 25,000 people, less than half of the crowd that Suncorp will hold if the game is able to go ahead as planned in Brisbane.
ARL Commission boss Peter V'landys said it was 'not a concern' at this stage, but a series of urgent talks today with health experts and the Queensland government could see a different outcome.
'The grand final won't stay at Suncorp Stadium if there is a lockdown, but at this stage there isn't one, so we have to hope and pray there isn't a lockdown,' V'landys said.
Asked what will happen if the Queensland government won't allow the NRL grand final to be played at Suncorp, V'landys said: 'Townsville is Plan B.'
Sunday's grand final is slated to kick-off at 7.30pm (AEST).
Latest Covid exposure sites in Queensland:
Albany Creek. McDonalds Albany Creek Drive Thru. 768 Albany Creek Rd. Thursday 23 September 2021 from 5.05am - 5.10am. Low risk contact
Eatons Hill. Mother Duck Childcare & Kindergarten. 6-12 Bunya Park Dr Eatons Hill, Queensland 4037. Thursday 23 September 2021 from 7.25am - 8am. Casual contact
Rocklea. Seats 'R' Us. 1/1620 Ipswich Rd , QLD 4106 . Thursday 23 September from 11.15am - 11.45am. Close contact
Aspley. Freedom Furniture 815 Zillmere Rd Brisbane. Thursday 23 September 2021 from 4.40pm - 5pm Casual contact
You just can’t beat such a grand grand final .
Last night's 14-12 win by the Panthers over the Rabbitohs on Nine was a classic rugby league grand final for the ages. And it pitted western Sydney (forgotten by the Coalition governments in Sydney and Canberra) against another forgotten area, South Sydney. Unlike the well-connected Easts, Manly and Melbourne Storm, the grand final saw one of the competition’s newer clubs in Penrith pitted against one of the oldest with 21 premierships. © Provided by Crikey The game averaged a very high 3.23 million nationally, the best for four years. The metro audience topped 2.